tomorrow is National Day of Prayer.
I agree in concept with a day to concentrate on praying for our nation, and our leaders (Mr. Obama certainly needs God's guiding hand on his heart)......
In the midst of spreading the word and reminding people to pray we must be careful of something - the majority of our own prayers should be kept private. I am by no means saying that there is no place for a prayer gathering. Just that we need to be deep-down certain that we are utterly focused on God, not on the humans praying along with us. Stick with me here.
Christ actually said to pray in secret. I believe that this is not because he wants us to hide from men, but rather to keep us from falling to one of the easiest snares for a Christian - spiritual pride. Pride in our own spiritual-ness.
Here are the relevant verses:
5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.[a]' 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Has someone ever surprised you by asking you to pray in public? what immediately went through your head? did you start worrying about how you were going to sound? will I get too emotional? Will I sound too detached? Will my sentences even make sense? (maybe it's just me that feels like this?)
Worse yet, have you ever known ahead of time that you were going to have to lead a group in prayer? Did you find yourself composing a suitable prayer? (tell me I'm not the only one...)
God wants my whole attention on HIM when I pray. He is the only audience that counts. But Christ knows that I am all too human. He knows that I can't help but worry when I pray out loud with someone else in the room (or many someones), so he suggested a way out. Ironically -to go into a closet.
Do you have a private place that you pray? I don't, but I need to. I usually pray in the car. Private, sort of, but certainly not conducive to concentrating on HIM !
When I was a kid I recall that my dad always prayed in the bathroom. Possibly because it was the only room in the house with a lock on the door....
But I love the idea of a prayer closet. Amy March had one in Little Women. Do you remember?
"Esther fitted up the closet with a little table, placed a footstool before it, and over it a picture taken from one of the shut-up rooms. She thought it was of no great value, but, being appropriate, she borrowed it, well knowing that Madame would never know it, nor care if she did. It was, however, a very valuable copy of one of the famous pictures of the world, and Amy's beauty-loving eyes were never tired of looking up at the sweet face of the Divine Mother, while her tender thoughts of her own were busy at her heart. On the table she laid her little testament and hymnbook, kept a vase always full of the best flowers Laurie brought her, and came every day to `sit alone' thinking good thoughts, and praying the dear God to preserve her sister. Esther had given her a rosary of black beads with a silver cross, but Amy hung it up and did not use it, feeling doubtful as to its fitness for Protestant prayers. The little girl was very sincere in all this, for being left alone outside the safe home nest, she felt the need of some kind hand to hold by so sorely that she instinctively turned to the strong and tender Friend, whose fatherly love most closely surrounds His little children. She missed her mother's help to understand and rule herself, but having been taught where to look, she did her best to find the way and walk in it confidently."
Having a closet, or a space designated as a prayer space in the home would be such a comfort and a great place to have a daily devotional. It might even be a great way to involve a child in private devotions from an early age.
Has anyone else done this? what did you use? a closet? a comfy chair in the corner of a room? was it for anyone in your home? or just one person? I'd love to hear your ideas/feedback.